Friday, June 16, 2006

Early Catholicism

The favourite slogan and label “early Catholicism” is less helpful for understanding Luke; it cannot really make any contribution to a historical and theological understanding of earliest Christianity. On the contrary, it fits all too well with today’s widespread desire for handy clichés. As far as Luke is concerned, both his enthusiastic conception of the spirit and his understanding of the ministry of the church, which at least outside of Jerusalem still did not have any hierarchical structure, fail to match the label … The auctor ad Theophilum is oriented more on the past period of Christian origins than on the arrival of the second century.

Martin Hengel, Earliest Christianity (trans. John Bowden; London: SCM, 1986), 65.

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